A trail of vintage shops in Locust Valley spans decades

Thriftocrat consignment shop owner Nina Adoni browses with shopper Jillian Pavone, of Locust Valley, on March 14. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

If all of the antiques in Locust Valley's shops could speak, they’d share a history decades deep packaged into one Long Island hamlet.

The area from which F. Scott Fitzgerald drew inspiration for “The Great Gatsby” has roughly a dozen antique and consignment shops — many within walking distance of one another — making it a haven for those seeking a one-of-a-kind treasure with a storied past. 

Victoria Graef Moses, owner of The Finer Things antique shop on Birch Hill Road, says, out-of-towners drawn to the area to meet friends for a cup of coffee get struck by the window shopping opportunities along Forest Avenue and its intersecting streets. “The next thing they know, an antique piece will sort of speak to them and they’ll buy it,” she adds.

Other visitors include young couples from Brooklyn and Manhattan looking for accent pieces or repurposed furniture for their new homes; television producers searching for authentic props for their upcoming series; and designers and interior decorators browsing for clients.

Karen Fagelman, owner of KLF Interiors LLC in Port Washington, did just that when she visited the area last month and was struck by an intersection of eras on display. “I like the way the shop owners stage a vignette of furniture as if it's a sitting area,” she says. “It shows how you can use the pieces in a home.”

Grey Gate Home resides at the west end of Locust Valley's main street. This 100-year-old house punctuates the town's Europeanesque shopping area.  Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin

Antiques and high-end consignment shops, in some capacity, have lined the streets of Locust Valley since the roaring twenties, according to the Locust Valley Chamber of Commerce. Greg Lanza, who owns Greg Lanza Interior Design and is on the Chamber board, explains, “In the '20s and '30s, antiques came about in Locust Valley because of all the estates that we have in the area and big country homes. Many were owned by bankers, financiers and other wealthy professionals who were world travelers and collected grand pieces from Asia and Europe.”

That brought upholstery shops into town to make window treatments and custom upholstery for those grand estates. Interior design shops opened as well, followed by antique shops — especially as the estates were being sold off.

Today, the presence of the past remains strong in the area. “Every shop in town is different and we all work together really well,” says Graef Moses.

Since the owners research all items they sell to be certain they’re authentic, they know the story behind each piece on display. You might be drawn in by the look of a piece, and hooked by its tale. Below, some of the area's shop owners share the journeys of interesting items on their shelves. 

TALE OF THE ANTIQUE FRENCH DESK

Elizabeth Pash, owner of Elizabeth Pash Interiors and Antiques, offers a blend of European items, many purchased from France. She says, “I lived in France as a student and speak French, so that’s my go-to place for antiques.” She also believes in mixing old and new from different periods. One of her favorites in the shop is an English mahogany ottoman upholstered in a faux-crocodile patent leather. She says, “It’s an example of giving a traditional piece a face-lift.”

Pash says the best way to describe the tone in her shop is “understated elegance.” She adds, “I think the most fun thing is if I have a desk with lots of nooks and crannies, maybe from France, and it has traveled across the ocean to get to my store. One day, if I randomly open a drawer and find a little receipt or letter in French inside, that’s so cool.”

THE TRAVELS OF JADE AND A NAPKIN RING

In The Finer Things shop, Graef Moses says, “I try desperately hard to keep on the antique side of things.” She offers higher-end glass, porcelain and furnishings. “The other shops in town offer more furniture for living rooms and bedrooms, while I offer the accessories that go in each room,” Graef Moses explains.

Young couples who are excited about repurposing come to her shop for accent pieces. They’ll turn traditional napkin rings into small candle holders. “I had a customer come into the store the other day and saw a large piece of jade. It resembled a green record on a stand. The customer stared at it, didn’t know what it was or where she’d put it, but it spoke to her. She bought it because it was telling her to take it home.”

Locust Valley Thriftocrat consignment shop owner Nina Adoni sells midcentury modern pieces with a bright vibe. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

ADVENTURES OF BAMBOO DESK AND FLORAL FRUIT MIRROR

“I specialize in midcentury modern,” says Nina Adoni, owner of Thriftocrat. “I bring a different spice to Locust Valley because I offer California sunshine-style colors that pop from the ‘60s and ‘70s.” She tends to attract a younger crowd who are looking for funky barware, glassware, and unusual accent pieces. “I sell things that put a cherry on top of a home,” she says.

Adoni adds, “I had a bamboo desk in a beautiful burnt orange color in the shop. A lovely couple came in and said it was perfect for them. They bought an oval mirror with a fruit and floral frame to go with it.”

THE HOPEFUL FAUX-TORTOISE BAMBOO CHAIRS

Kristen Ryan, owner of B Home, says, she uses gut instinct to pick out the array of items in her shop where you'll find “a little bit of everything,” from 18th century French provincial, to midcentury modern (‘50s to early ‘60s), post modern (from the late ‘60s to’ 70s and ‘80s), and more contemporary.

Ryan adds, “My pieces are unique, well-priced and livable. Some millennials come in looking for something traditional with a twist, or a piece that reminds them of their grandmother’s home.” Currently, Ryan has a pair of faux tortoise bamboo chairs with fluid velvet print. They’re looking for the right family. “If you want a unique home that’s a little bit quirky and individualized, then putting it together over time, with found pieces, is the way to go,” Ryan says.

ANTIQUE CARPET MYSTERIES

“Our specialty is handmade, antique carpets from all over the world,” says Corinne Zaman, co-owner Heirloom. Most are wool, and vegetable dyed. The shop is filled with Asian and Persian carpets that date back well over 100 years. Small, modern rugs are available, too. There’s something for everyone.

Antiques and collectibles are also in the store, such as Ming Dynasty vases, antique paintings, and a large pine chest from England. “Some of the pieces we have are museum quality,” Zaman mentioned. Others have been in television series such as Succession, or on Broadway stages. “I often think the carpets must have had many lives,” Zaman adds. “Some are so large and beautiful. Were they inside palaces?”

Angela Cardillo, owner of Grey Gate Home in Locust Valley, with mid-century chairs crafted by Danish designer Chris Christiansen. Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin

TALE OF THE ELEGANT CHINA AND FARM TABLE

At Grey Gate Home, you’ll enter a 100-year-old house that is actually an antique/high-end consignment shop. The furnishings and accessories are placed in four rooms that are set up as a living room, dining room, kitchen and sitting room. Founder Angela Cardillo explains the shop was created this way so customers could imagine how the different pieces would look in rooms in their homes.

Every room consists of combinations of antiques, midcentury and vintage furnishings. Cardillo also sells fine china and crystals. Don’t be surprised if you find an antique dish sitting on a farmhouse table.

The kitchen at Grey Gate Home displays a set of...

The kitchen at Grey Gate Home displays a set of stoneware of teal and brown Arabia pottery. Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin

“The biggest trend now is transitional, which is mixtures of pieces that are in between,” Cardillo says. “Grey Gate combines new and old. Are the combinations in style? No. But who cares? If they’re special to you, that’s all that matters.”

STORY OF THE MIRROR WITH THE GOLD TRIM

The Perfect Find Consignments is a 4,000-square-foot high-end consignment shop. Owner Zsuzsanna Goodwin says, “The items in my store are anything that goes into a home — everything from a coffee table to a sofa, dining room tables and chairs to a bedroom set. Every piece has a story and is in perfect condition.” The styles range from traditional to transitional to contemporary.

She adds, “The other day, a customer came from Connecticut looking for a mirror with gold trim. I showed her lots of them, and she found the perfect one.”

Karen Fagelman of KLF Interiors at Grey Gate Home in Locust Valley. Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin

TALE OF THREE UNIQUE ANTIQUES

“Our roots are deep in New England antiques,” says Gina Maisano, owner of Silver Creek Antique and Estate. It’s a true antique store that also carries fine art from known artists (mainly American). You’ll find furnishings spanning the 18th to 20th century that include props from the HBO series, “The Gilded Age.”

Maisano mixes and matches pieces from different eras within the antique world. Currently, there’s a late-18th century chest of drawers with a pair of 1920s brass lanterns on top and a Willem de Kooning painting (abstract artist) hanging behind it. “Antiques have a story, and if you have an imagination, they can fascinate you beyond their beautiful looks,” Maisano says.

ANTIQUES LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Robin’s Antiques owner Robin Rafimayer has been in the antique business since he was 11 years old. Now, as part of the fourth generation of his family’s business, he says, “We specialize in 19th century French decorative, but we buy from A to Z.” You can find pieces from the 18th century to midcentury modern and modern. Silver, jewelry, and bronzes are also their specialties.

After four generations, Rafimayer has no doubt seen countless antiques begin new “lives” and create new memories. Currently in his shop, there’s a modern bronze sculpture of two figures kissing, which is sitting on a traditional table. When asked about finding homes for future pieces, he says, “No one is really into tunnel vision anymore where everything looks 19th century or brand new. Combining is a trend and fad, and it really looks beautiful.”

Vintage treasures in Locust Valley 

Browse some of the area's vintage shops.